From ‘moonscape’ to flourishing oasis: How climate leadership transformed Lady Elliot Island - Bundaberg Region
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From ‘moonscape’ to flourishing oasis: How climate leadership transformed Lady Elliot Island

The pristine waters of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef are a haven for over 1,200 species of fish, turtles, reef sharks and manta rays. This abundance of awe-inspiring sea life is also a drawcard for snorkelers and divers who love swimming in the presence of such majestic animals. And when they do, there’s no better place to stay than the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort. It’s the perfect place for eco-minded adventurers to come for their R and R.

From barren to beautiful

“Lady Elliot is a coral cay with the most pristine fringing reef. Guests can snorkel straight off the beach and enjoy this beautiful marine haven,” says Amy Gash, one member of the family who operates this accredited eco resort. But it hasn’t always looked so beautiful.

Located 80 kilometers Northeast of Bundaberg, Lady Elliot is the Southernmost island of the Great Barrier Reef, and only accessible by light aircraft. After being mined for guano in the nineteenth century, it lay barren for decades, stripped of all vegetation by the miners. But the island has been gradually rehabilitated and revegetated since the 1960s. When Peter Gash and his family were granted their current lease in 2005, they immediately ramped up revegetation work and set about transforming the site with low-impact lodgings in a variety of styles all powered by renewable energy. Thanks to their efforts and the hard work of landcare volunteers, the island has transformed from denuded ‘moonscape’ into a flourishing oasis of bird and plant life. They have planted over 10,000 native seedlings with another 10,000 growing in the island’s nursery waiting their turn.

Resort accommodation for nature-loving adventurers

Self-sufficiency is key for an island like Lady Elliot, which caters for both day visitors and longer stays. With no mains power or town water to draw from, electricity is generated by the 900 solar panels covering the rooftops of the 44 dwellings on the island. Battery storage means that in clear weather conditions, the island is powered by 100% renewable energy. The solar panels provide electricity to run the desalination plant that turns the ocean into drinking water for guests. A state-of-the-art water treatment plant, also powered by solar, treats wastewater that is used to create a welcoming green runway for visiting aircraft as well as keeping the surrounding Southern Great Barrier Reef pristine.

Normally, the infrastructure behind a resort is hidden away. But at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort it’s part of the attraction. The resort offers a wide range of free tours around Lady Elliot Island. The behind-the-scenes tour, which uncovers the secrets of a sustainable, remote island resort, has proven to be the most popular with guests fascinated by the innovations at work.

“When we first introduced it a couple of years ago we used to only run one tour a week. Now we can't even keep up with three or four tours a week, with 20 to 30 people on every tour. It's a great educational tool for people to understand how we run and operate in such a sensitive environment,” says Amy.

Climate Action Leaders

Safeguarding the reef and inspiring others to do the same is key to everything at the resort. They boast the largest contingent of Master Reef Guides on the South Great Barrier Reef among their staff, so are able to offer guests exceptional, transformative reef education during their stay. With Advanced Ecotourism credentials and recognition as Climate Action Leaders, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort are proud that they can demonstrate to the tourism industry what a commitment to environmental sustainability can achieve. Although many people who visit the island each year are already sustainably-minded, they still walk away with a deeper commitment to change for the sake of the reef. “We get messages from people saying they’re inspired by what is happening on Lady Elliot,” says Amy. “It's a really nice message to get back from guests because we know we're making an impact on people. That's what is most important for us.”

Book your visit to this eco-oasis today!

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Saturday, 28 May 2022

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